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SI Canterbury members continue working with the Rising Sun to support victims of domestic abuse

It’s now a year since the Rising Sun Domestic Abuse Service set up the weekly “One Stop Cafe”. Its purpose is to provide a space for women who are recovering from the trauma of domestic violence simply to gather together for conversation and laughter, coffee and brownies. 

The friendly atmosphere enables the women, if they want, to talk over past and ongoing issues with people who understand their situation. This weekly opportunity to talk and be mutually supportive to each other is proving to be affirmative and very helpful to the women on their ongoing journey. 

The cafe is attended by a Rising Sun professional and supported each week by SI Canterbury volunteers Nancy, Vanessa and Hazel who provide a listening ear (as well as the brownies of course!). Craft materials are available, and we were delighted that two of the service users facilitated the group to make decorations for the Rising Sun children’s Christmas party. 

one stop cafe stars

one stop cafe lanterns

We look forward to seeing how the cafe develops over the coming year.





The Paul Curmi Dancers who entertained at the Opening Ceremony
The Paul Curmi Dancers at the Opening Ceremony

Two members of SI Canterbury attended the annual conference of Soroptimist international of Great Britain and Ireland in Malta in early November.

The federation conference was a great success with pomp, ceremony, inspiring speakers and fantastic Maltese entertainment.


Speakers included Sue Ion, a British engineer and expert adviser on the nuclear power industry, Bandana Rama, one of the leaders of the women’s movement in Nepal who was a recipient of the “Woman of Distinction” Award 2016, Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, who now works at the Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London and Sara Ezabe Malliue, an inspiring young law student who advocates for social inclusion, launching the social media anti discriminatory campaign #RedefiningUS  this year.

Also speaking were Steve Arthur, a civil engineer who works in the water and environment engineering sector who supports and speaks for Wateraid and DaveCoplin, Chief Envisioning officer with Microsoft and author of two books, Business Reimagined and The Rise of the Humans.

'Red Electrick', entertains delegates at the closing ceremony.
‘Red Electrick’, entertains delegates at the closing ceremony.

As always, the conference was thought provoking, humbling and a lot of fun with Red Electrick, Mata’s Music Award Best Band 2014, providing a lively end to the Closing Ceremony.

 Beautiful Spinola Bay
Beautiful Spinola Bay

The icing on the cake was the warmer weather and lovely scenery which provided a great boost as winter sets in in Canterbury!



Remembrance day 2016


Back in Canterbury, our President Yvonne, and Immediate Past President, Jane took part in Canterbury’s annual Remembrance Day event on Sunday 13th November.

Yvonne and Jane, pictured carrying our wreath before the event, joined other local organisations and dignitaries to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

imageSI Canterbury members were proud to be represented at this event.






Later in the month, on November 23rd, three SI Canterbury members visited Westminster  for the launch of Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder 2016.

Target Ovarian Cancer is the UK’s leading ovarian cancer charity. They work to improve early diagnosis, fund life-saving research and provide much-needed support to women with ovarian cancer.






The launch of their latest research was attended by several MPs as well as patrons and supporters of the charity.

The evening event provided an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the work of the charity in the wonderful surroundings of Westminster.


Yvonne & Graham at Target Ovarian Cancer WalkEarlier this year President Yvonne and her partner Graham, took part in the Ovarian Cancer Walk at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park raising over £300 for the charity.

SI Canterbury members are now delighted that Susan Booth, Director of Fundraising at Target Ovarian Cancer, has decided to join our club and we look forward to formally welcoming her at our January meeting.




We were delighted to end the month, and our club year, by welcoming another new member at our November meeting.

imageDawn Lilford has been attending meetings for some time and was proposed to the club by her friend Carol Reed.
imageSI Canterbury President, Yvonne, completed her induction and welcomed her to Soroptimist International.

Club members are thrilled that Dawn has joined our club and look forward to her company and support.









43EF8436-F19A-47B4-AFF1-B52485C1A60239ED0531-84C3-465F-9C00-F19F95356065SI Canterbury President, Yvonne welcomed a new member, Ruth, to the club at our October meeting.

Ruth has attended meetings and events for a number of months after being introduced to the club by our secretary, Carol and at our Thursday meeting Carol formally proposed her to the club.

Ruth was then inducted into SI Canterbury by President Yvonne who welcomed her to our club and to Soroptimist International.






FullSizeRender2Our annual Barn Dance, held in September, attracted lots of new guests and a lively time was had by all. There was lots of laughter and socialising as dancers twirled and galloped across the dance floor.

Folk Band, The RoysterCatchers, provided fantastic musicians and a great caller who encouraged dancers through some energetic routines.

We provided supper for the dancers during a break and were delighted that a grand total of £500 was raised for the Meru Women’s Garden Project in Kenya.


This was a really great evening with lots of laughter, energetic dancing and socialising. Thank you to all our lovely helpers and guests who helped to make it such fun whilst supporting the women and families in Meru.



IMG_0698Members of SI Canterbury were delighted to host Barbara Harrison, a member of SI Wexford, at their August social lunch.

This provided an opportunity to chat with a fellow Soroptimist and  hear how SI Wexford had raised funds for the MERU WOMEN’S GARDEN PROJECT through a car boot sale.

IMG_0694During the lunch President Yvonne also presented a cheque for £4,000 to Carol Reed, Chair of Canterbury’s branch of SAVE THE CHILDREN.


This money represented half of the funds raised at the ABBA tribute show held at the Marlowe Theatre in July. We know that it will be put to good use and will support a very special charity.


Study dayThree members of SI Canterbury attended a SIGBI Study Day in Bristol on Saturday July 9th. Keynote speakers talked about modern day slavery, reducing women’s imprisonment and female genital mutilation.

During the day our members sold Meru Women Garden Badges to other Soroptimists including our SIGBI Federation President Margaret Emsley.

The badges were designed and purchased by our club and all profits go to the project in Meru, Kenya.





IMG_6065The highlight of July has to be the ABBA Tribute Show that we organised at the Marlowe Theatre on Monday 11th raising nearly £8000 for SI Canterbury’s charities.

The one night show was very nearly a sell out with only 23 tickets unsold when the curtain went up.

The ABBA look-a-likes performed all of the group’s popular songs and the theatre rocked as over 1150 people sang and danced to  Mama Mia, Dancing Queen, Waterloo and many, many more.

The Marlowe theatre donated all profits from the show, a whopping £7052.24, to our charities and in addition we collected over £820 at the doors as the audience left the theatre.


Some members of SI Canterbury meet the cast in the interval.
Some members of SI Canterbury meet the cast in the interval.


The money raised was split between Save the Children and The Meru Women’s Garden Project, two charities close to our hearts.

These funds will make a huge difference to many, many women and children both here in the UK and overseas.

At the end of the show, we definitely said, THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC, and for the generosity of the Marlowe Theatre and the wonderful audience who dropped money into our buckets as they left. It was a wonderful and worthwhile night!







imageWe finished the month of July with five members of SI Canterbury helping two residents of the women’s refuge to transform the refuge garden.

Together we painted the shed, weeded the flowers bed and planted new flowers.

The refuge manager described us as Soroptimist Stars!!



In June we were thrilled to welcome visitors from our Friendship Link Club, SI Tacoma.

Jan and Mike outside Canterbury Cathedral.
Jan and Mike outside Canterbury Cathedral.


Jan Runbeck and her husband Mike visited Canterbury for three days en route from France to London.

During that time we were able to show them around Canterbury, walking the city walls, exploring the castle, Cathedral and Roman Museum and eating lunch in the oldest pub in Canterbury, The Parrot.

We also made a day trip to Dover Castle where our visitors enjoyed its splendour and history.





SI Tacoma visitA highlight of the visit was meeting fellow Soroptomists at a supper party held in their honour. Jan and Mike told us a little about SI Tacoma and their programme action and enjoyed socializing and getting to know members of SI Canterbury.

Their visit further strengthened our friendship link and brought us closer to our Soroptimist friends in Tacoma.




Vanessa induction


At our June meeting, President Yvonne, welcomed new member Vanessa to the club.

Vanessa moved to Canterbury last year and was introduced to SI Canterbury through a chance meeting with a member during which she learnt about the organisation and local club.

She had attended meetings and events for a number of months and became our newest member when she was formally inducted to the club on June 26th.


Jane in AostaCanterbury Soroptimist Jane Webb, and her husband David, received a great welcome from Aosta Soroptimists when they visited in May 2016.

They enjoyed a wonderful few days hospitality from members of SI Aosta, one of our Friendship Links, while on holiday in Italy with a chance to meet members, dinner dates and a visit to the Cathedral.

We hope our sisters in Aosta will visit us in Canterbury soon!


DSCF2508bSI Canterbury held their annual President’s dinner at Howfield Manor Hotel on Saturday April 2nd.

The dinner celebrated the Soroptimist year 2015-2016 and the friendship and support of all members during that time.

Members welcomed the opportunity to catch up with friends and after an evening of lively socialising President Jane thanked everyone for their support, highlighting the club’s very successful year.


Feel Good Event


The following day, April 3rd, Canterbury and Thanet Soroptimists raised the profile for Soroptimist International at the Thanet Feel Good Festival, held at the Margate Winter Gardens.

A table displaying photos of the service, friendship and fun of our Soroptimists drew people in and several showed an interest in Soroptimist International.

We handed out many leaflets about the organisation and gathered seventy eight signatures on a petition supporting the Purple Teardrop appeal against human trafficking.



exhibition tableDuring April our club also exhibited photographs at the Friends Meeting House, Canterbury.

image4The photographs were taken by women on probation at workshops led by club member Millie Brierley. The workshops were run as part of the campaign by the Prison Reform Trust and Soroptimist International to Reduce Women’s Imprisonment.

The women worked with enthusiasm and took some great shots.


SI Canterbury supported Parkside Primary School to celebrate World Book Day on March 3rd and 4th 2016.

Members donated pre loved children’s books for a book swap event. Three members also helped out at book binding workshops for Key Stage 2 children on March 3rd. During these, children made and bound books which they can use as sketch books, scrap books, diaries, or albums at school or at home.

Kent author C. S. Clifford
Kent author C. S. Clifford


Our club also funded a visit by local children’s author, C.S. (Steve) Clifford who ran very successful workshops for pupils.

Steve is a Kent based author who incorporates time travel, myths and legends and fast paced action into his ‘Walking With’ series.

His books, ‘Walking with Nessie (2015) and ‘Walking with the Hood’ (2014) are popular additions to primary school libraries and he was well received by the pupils of Parkside Community Primary School.





janes tableA few days later we celebrated INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY and the official launch of the MERU WOMEN’S GARDEN PROJECT with a dinner for 70 guests at Howfield Manor Hotel, Canterbury on March 8th.

The evening began with a performance of African music by the vibrant  Maridadi Singers and Drummers who entertained us spectacularly during our Welcome Drinks Reception.

This was followed by a wonderful three course dinner during which guests socialised and enjoyed the fabulous food.




An after dinner speech about the project and the amazing women who lead and take part in the groups was provided by Thomas Muirhead, Managing Director of, our partner charity. Thomas was able to tell us about  how this project will help to deliver the training, tools and plants to empower the women of Meru to be able to support themselves and their families.

Margaret Ikiara (in orange) with members of a women's group.

He also told us about Margaret Ikiara, founder of the Community Initiatives for Rural Development (CIFORD). are working closely with CIFORD who run the project on the ground and the amazing work that Margaret does to enable, educate and empower the women of Meru was an inspiration for us all.




We were then thrilled to be able to present a cheque for £1000 to begin the fundraising. This was made up of funds raised so far, including 500 Euros donated by our Friendship Link club SI Versailles. In addition Joanne Redley, SI Northwich, who attended the dinner, presented a cheque for £250 from her club.



dinner 2dinner 1

We were delighted to get the SIGBI Federation project fundraising off to such a great start.

Helping women in Meru to improve their families’ lives  is such a worthwhile cause and it was good to know that we were well on our way towards securing the funds for the next group of women to begin training and establishing their gardens.




Easter eggs for refuge 2016


We finished the month by donating Easter eggs to the refuge for victims of domestic violence in Canterbury.

These were gratefully received by staff and distributed to the women in time for Easter.




SI Canterbury welcomed Joy Sharman, from the Canterbury Fair Trade Network, to our February meeting.

President Jane with Joy after the meeting.
President Jane with Joy after the meeting.



Joy, a staunch advocate, has been involved in Fair Trade and  run stalls across the area since Fair Trade first started in Canterbury over 20 years ago. She gave a very interesting talk to members about the history of Fair Trade in Canterbury, the benefits to producers, Fair Trade Fortnight and upcoming events in our locality.

Members then talked about a Fair Trade item that they had researched and we sampled some fair trade products including, of course, chocolate!

For more information about Fair Trade visit the Canterbury website at:



FullSizeRenderSI Canterbury was delighted to welcome Anne Lyttle, Director of Services at the Rising Sun Domestic Violence & Abuse Service, as our guest speaker at our club meeting in January 2016.

Anne told us that students from the University of Kent had set up the first women’s refuge in a squat in Canterbury in the early 1970’s. The refuge then moved to the Rising Sun, a former pub owned by a housing association.

Since 2002 the refuge and domestic violence and abuse service have been run separately but in partnership.


Their programmes are concerned with: Prevention, Early Intervention and Enhances Services for Survivors. The services have blossomed over the years but shockingly the prevalence of domestic abuse is not reducing. Training programmes have been developed for agencies dealing with domestic abuse, for children suffering the trauma of domestic abuse and educating young people about healthy relationships.

The Service is financed by grants, some of which are applied for in partnership with other Kent Domestic Violence providers. SI Canterbury will continue to offer practical and financial support wherever possible.